The EU’s diplomatic chief on Friday voiced deep concern about developments in Hong Kong, where prominent democracy activists were arrested as the city’s political crisis rages.

Federica Mogherini warned the Hong Kong authorities that the EU was watching closely after police swooped to detain a number of activists including lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai, and Agnes Chow, .

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Helsinki discussed the turmoil that has been gripping Hong Kong for the past three months, with increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters.

“The developments in Hong Kong over these last hours are extremely worrying,” Mogherini said afterwards.

“We expect the authorities in Hong Kong to respect the freedom of assembly, expression and association as well as the right of people to demonstrate peacefully”, she added.

The demonstrations, which began in protest at a planned law permitting extradition to mainland China, have by turns seen millions march, closed the airport and left city streets strewn with bricks and shrouded in tear gas.

“We will continue to pass messages publicly and privately and continue to work for the situation not to continue to go into the wrong direction but rather the opposite, to reverse to a more positive trend,” Mogherini said, noting that EU countries had significant business interests in the former British colony. (AFP)